The way that films have been distributed and released has changed significantly over the past few years, and the trend looks set to continue.
Streaming services and Video On Demand (VOD) platforms have started to dominate the industry, with platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus rising in popularity among consumers. This has led to film distribution companies changing their approach when releasing blockbusters.
The Switch to Streaming
The power of streaming services has been too big for distribution companies to ignore and there are plans for more upcoming blockbusters to be released directly to streaming platforms. Wonder Woman 1984 was released directly to the streaming platform HBO Max on the 25th of December this year after the release date has already been pushed back over a year. Although the film is being initially released to streaming platforms, it will be played only in theatres after 31 days of being exclusive to HBO Max subscribers. Interestingly, after the new release date was announced for the film, Warner Brothers announced that all future blockbuster releases for 2021 would follow the same release strategy.
Major upcoming blockbusters such as The Matrix 4 and Dune will also follow the same type of release strategy, where the film will be initially released for VOD before being shown in cinemas. The appeal of streaming services has continued to rise throughout the past few years, so it does not come as much of a surprise that major films are now being released on these platforms.
The Effect on Consumer Perspectives
While streaming platforms have given consumers the ability to choose what they want to watch from wherever they want, the platforms are not without their complications.
Complications arose when Disney decided to release Mulan through their streaming platform Disney Plus. Typically, streaming platforms require a paid subscription – for example, Disney Plus charges £5.99 a month for subscribers to use the service. However, Disney released Mulan as a premium access title, charging £19.99 for access to the film, but insisting consumers had to continue to pay the £5.99 a month subscription fee to keep the film.
Confusion has arisen from other streaming platforms too, such as Amazon Prime charging extra to view certain titles including both new releases and older films. The number of streaming platforms can also be confusing for consumers. There are over 200 streaming platforms available, so it can be a dilemma for consumers to know which ones to sign up for, and it can also end up very expensive when signed up to multiple. It’s also difficult for consumers to keep track of the platforms different movies are going to be released on.
Similar dilemmas have occurred in the online gambling industry, where there is a range of different casino providers to choose from but it can be difficult for consumers to know which one to sign up to. A way for consumers to navigate this issue is through comparison websites. In a post Bonusfinder UK wrote, there is a range of casino providers offering different bonuses and their summaries allow consumers to choose the one most suitable for them. A similar type of platform could be useful for the TV and streaming industry, allowing consumers to compare the benefits of each streaming service before choosing to subscribe to the platforms that suit them.
Whilst the release of blockbuster films on streaming platforms gives easy access to consumers, it is difficult to compare the experience to going to the actual cinema. Some consumers will be happy that they have the option to access new releases from home, but a lot of people will still prefer to go see the blockbusters on the big screen.